Sunshine vitamin protects your heart and your bones

Many of us are aware of the importance of calcium for strong bones and osteoporosis prevention. However, we sometimes neglect an essential co-factor in bone health management – Vitamin D.


Vitamin D promotes the absorption of calcium and phosphorus. It regulates how much calcium remains in your blood and how much is deposited in your bones and teeth. A deficiency of vitamin D also contributes to osteoporosis by reducing calcium absorption. According to the National Institutes of Health people with vitamin D insufficiency absorb less than 10% of available calcium. In other words, even if you have an adequate calcium intake, you may not absorb it effectively if you have low levels of vitamin D.

Indeed, researchers from the Harvard Medical School published results of a large-scale study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in February 2003 confirming this. The study concluded that there was a lower risk of hip fractures only in individuals with a higher intake of calcium coupled with a higher intake of vitamin D.

As well as helping to prevent osteoporosis the very latest research published in this year in the medical journal Circulation has shown that vitamin D may also protect against heart attacks and strokes. Researchers found that those with low blood levels were twice as likely to suffer heart failure or stroke as those who had higher levels.  

Research has also shown that vitamin D can help reduce the risk of breast cancer.  A study in 2006 stated that vitamin D can halve the risk of developing cancer and that ‘vitamin D supplementation could reduce cancer incidence and mortality at low cost, with few or no adverse effects’.

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